Covid-19 Vaccine

Regional News • Europe
Biopharma company to produce Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Italy
Biopharma company to produce Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Italy
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Swiss biotech company Adienne Pharma & Biotech signed an agreement to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccine at its production site in the Milan region, said Antonio Francesco Di Naro, founder and president of the company.

The deal comes as Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged to speed up Italy's fledgeling vaccination campaign amid a new rise in infections from the disease that's led to more than 100,000 fatalities in the country.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday lashed out at manufacturers for failing to uphold their commitments as countries in Europe struggle to step up the pace of inoculations.

Regional News • Oceania
New Zealand bought enough Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for entire population
New Zealand bought enough Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for entire population
Credit: U.S. Secretary of Defense, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reported that New Zealand has purchased enough of Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine to inoculate its entire population. The government has signed an advanced purchases agreement with the vaccine manufacturer for an additional 8.5 million doses. Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine will be the country's primary vaccine.

Whilst the Pfizer vaccine does need to be kept at ultra-cold temperatures, this challenge is offset by only having to deal with one vaccine, rather than multiple vaccines with multiple protocols. It will simplify our vaccine roll out," Arden said.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EMA urges EU not to grant emergency authorization for Russian Covid-19 vaccine
EMA urges EU not to grant emergency authorization for Russian Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Mos.ru, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

An official of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is cautioning the European Union to hold back on granting emergency authorization for Sputnik V, Russia's Covid-19 vaccine until its effectiveness has been reviewed.

“We need documents that we can review. We also don’t at the moment have data...about vaccinated people. It is unknown. That’s why I would urgently advise against giving a national emergency authorization,” EMA managing board head Christa Wirthumer-Hoche said. “We can have Sputnik V on the market here in future when the appropriate data have been reviewed. The rolling review has begun now at EMA.”

Regional News • Europe
European Commission President Von der Leyen expects 100 million Covid-19 doses for the EU per month as of April
European Commission President Von der Leyen expects 100 million Covid-19 doses for the EU per month as of April
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

In January and February, 20 and 30 million vaccine doses respectively had been delivered by the manufacturers, said von der Leyen, in March 50 million doses were expected: "From April onwards, the quantities could double again according to the manufacturers' plans. That would be an average of around 100 million doses per month in the second quarter, a total of 300 million by the end of June."

Regional News • Europe • France
France plans to vaccinate 30 million people by summer – PM Castex
France plans to vaccinate 30 million people by summer – PM Castex
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that France will have enough Coronavirus vaccines doses to vaccinate over 30 million people (two-thirds of the population) by this summer. The aim is to vaccinate 10 million people by mid-April and 20 million by mid-May as "deliveries of doses to France will increase in the coming weeks."

“Between January and February, we received seven million doses of all vaccines. In March, we should receive 22 million doses, three times as many. We can't vaccinate everyone right away. You will still have to be patient but don't have any doubt - you will be vaccinated,” he said.

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Italy 'blocks' AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine shipment to Australia
Italy 'blocks' AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine shipment to Australia
Credit: Gencat (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

The Italian government has decided to block the export of a 250,000 doses shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine produced in Italy to Australia.

Italy is the first European Union country to use the bloc's new regulations allowing exports to be stopped if the company providing the vaccines has failed to meet its obligations to the EU.

Italy's new Prime Minister Mario Draghi, an influential figure in Europe as the former president of the European Central Bank, argued in a videoconference with EU leaders that the rules should be applied rigorously, furious at reductions by AstraZeneca of up to 70% in the doses it was contracted to provide.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany now recommends AstraZeneca for people over 65
Germany now recommends AstraZeneca for people over 65
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The German Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko) at the Robert Koch Institute now recommends AstraZeneca's vaccine for people older than 65. The Ministry of Health confirmed the change in a statement. The interval between the two vaccination doses is also to be extended.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazilian Government decides to buy Pfizer and Janssen Covid-19 vaccines
Meeting between the Brazilian Ministry of Health and Janssen
Meeting between the Brazilian Ministry of Health and Janssen Credit: Ministério da Saúde

The Brazilian Ministry of Health decided on Wednesday to sign contracts for the purchase of vaccines against Covid-19 from Pfizer and Janssen laboratories. The contracts are being drafted and must be signed by the beginning of next week, with a determination of the quantity of doses to be delivered.

The country is experiencing the most serious moment of the pandemic, with reports of collapse in the health system in different states and successive records of deaths by Covid-19, which has increased criticism of the folder for the delay in negotiations to obtain vaccines against the disease.

Business • Health Care
Merck to help produce Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine
Merck to help produce Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Montgomery County Planning Commission, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Merck, an American multinational pharmaceutical company and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, will help produce Johnson & Johnson's one-shot Covid-19 vaccine, the company announced in a statement.

"Merck [...] announced today it has entered into multiple agreements to support efforts to expand manufacturing capacity and supply of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 medicines and vaccines," and will "support the manufacturing and supply of Johnson & Johnson’s SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 vaccine," the statement reads.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to contribute to the global response to the pandemic as part of the remarkable efforts of the entire medical and scientific community,” said Mike Nally, executive vice president, Human Health at Merck. “This funding from BARDA will allow us to accelerate our efforts to scale up our manufacturing capacity to enable timely delivery of much-needed medicines and vaccines for the pandemic.”

Regional News • Americas • United States
Biden says Covid-19 vaccines will be available for every American adult by the end of May
President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden Credit: The White House (Public Domain)

President Joe Biden said in a brief speech at the White House on Tuesday, that the United States is "on track" to offer a Covid-19 vaccine to "every adult in America by the end of May", two months earlier than previously expected.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Donald and Melania Trump received Covid vaccine at the White House in January
Donald and Melania Trump
Donald and Melania Trump Credit: Trump White House Archived (Public Domain)

CNN reports that Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump were vaccinated against the coronavirus back in January. Further details about their vaccination were not available.

According to The New York Times, both received at least the first dose of the vaccine before leaving the White House before President Joe Biden's inauguration.

The news came a day after Trump spoke at the CPAC political conference and said, "Everyone should go get your shot," encouraging everyone to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Regional News • Europe • France
France will offer the Oxford/AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine to some people over 65
France will offer the Oxford/AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine to some people over 65
Credit: Gencat, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

France has lifted the age restriction of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine will now be offered to "people aged 50 and above who have comorbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a history of cancer can be vaccinated with AstraZeneca, including those aged 65 to 74."

“The Haute Autorité de Santé now considers as of today that all three vaccines that we have in France have a remarkable efficacy to protect people against the risk of severe forms of Covid-19,” Health minister Olivier Véran said.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Fauci says not to compare Covid-19 vaccines, urges American to take any of three vaccines available
Fauci says not to compare Covid-19 vaccines, urges American to take any of three vaccines available
Credit: unsplash.com/Daniel Schludi

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, is urging Americans to take any of the three Covid-19 vaccines currently available as all of them are "safe and efficacious."

“We’ve got to get away from that chain of thought. The only way you really know the difference between vaccines is by comparing them head to head,” so Fauci. “We have three highly efficacious vaccines that are safe and efficacious. That’s the bottom line.”

Regional News • Americas • South America
Uruguay started nation-wide Covid-19 vaccination with +47k essential workers already scheduled

Firsts jabs are available only for education, police, and military personnel.

The Health Ministry's goal is to achieve herd immunity with the vaccine (around 70% of the whole population). Vaccination is not mandatory, but health minister Salinas pointed that being vaccinated is a civic duty. People that don't want to be vaccinated will be put at the end of the line.

Regional News • Americas • United States
FDA grants emergency approval for Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine
FDA grants emergency approval for Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency approval for the preparation on Saturday (local time). US President Joe Biden spoke of "inspiring news for all Americans and an encouraging development in our efforts to end the crisis". There is "light at the end of the tunnel", but no reason to sound the all-clear, he warned on Saturday evening (local time).

Regional News • Americas • Canada
Canada authorizes the AstraZeneca's Coronavirus vaccine
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222); Oxford University-AstraZeneca
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222); Oxford University-AstraZeneca Credit: Agência Brasília, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Health Canada regulators authorized Oxford University-AstraZeneca's Coronavirus vaccine for adults 18+ on Friday.

"This is very encouraging news. It means more people vaccinated, and sooner. Because for AstraZeneca, just like we were for Pfizer and Moderna, we are ready to get doses rolling," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. "Vaccines will keep arriving faster and faster as we head into the spring."

Regional News • Europe
AstraZeneca admits huge Covid-19 vaccine shortfall for EU
AstraZeneca admits huge Covid-19 vaccine shortfall for EU
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, said to European lawmakers the company would deliver to the EU less than half the amount of Covid-19 vaccine doses that it pledged for the first quarter of 2021. The undersupply torpedoed the EU’s plan to use AstraZeneca as its main first vaccine during the first quarter.

Soriot also said, "we hope that by Q2 (the April-May-June second quarter), we can catch up to where we would like to be."

EU officials say ramped up deliveries from April by the Anglo-Swedish company and by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna mean that the 27-nation bloc remains on track to reach its goal of fully vaccinating 70% of adults by mid-September.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU leaders debated unilateral Covid-19 measures, expect vaccine passport by summer to revive tourism
EU leaders debated unilateral Covid-19 measures, expect vaccine passport by summer to revive tourism
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

Twenty-seven European leaders have met to debate joint Covid-19 measures, including unilateral border and movement restrictions, the slow vaccine rollout and vaccine passports. While open questions remain, a vaccine passport is to be expected by summer.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Angela Merkel wants EU vaccination passport in the next three months
Angela Merkel wants EU vaccination passport in the next three months
Credit: Christliches Medienmagazin pro / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expects that the EU vaccination passport can be developed by the summer. "The political target is to achieve this in the next few months, I have spoken of three months," the CDU politician said on Thursday after the EU video summit.

The certificate is intended to create the possibility of granting advantages to vaccinated persons, if necessary. "Everyone has pointed out today that this is not an issue at all at the moment, given the low vaccination coverage of the population. But one has to prepare oneself," Merkel emphasized. She added that the vaccination certificate alone would not determine who could travel. "No political decisions have been made about this at all yet."

Health
Ghana becomes the first nation in the world to receive Covax vaccines
Ghana becomes the first nation in the world to receive Covax vaccines
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Ghana received delivery of 600,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 jabs acquired through the Covax initiative. The initiative is an immunisation-sharing scheme designed to help developing countries in the vaccination effort.

The United Nations-backed initiative delivered Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India.

The World Health Organization director Dr Tedros Adhanom previously said that bilateral deals between rich nationals and vaccine manufacturers have made it more difficult for Covax to acquire jabs, leading Rwanda's President Paul Kagame to condemn "hypocrisy and double standards" in global distribution efforts.